In his weekly press conference, coach Mike Tomlin began by addressing one of the greatest problems facing the team this season.
“The significant element of play was the turnover ratio. But not only in this game. If you look back at the last eight quarters of football for us, as a football team, it’s something we’ve got to tighten up and tighten up rather quickly.”
Coach Tomlin went on to point out it is not just turnovers on offense, but the lack of takeaways on defense.
“We’ve turned the ball over some on offense. We’ve got to do a better job of safeguarding and preserving it in everything that we do. Whether it’s a run, or passing, or running with the football, etc. And on the defense of side of the ball, save the last snap of the game in Jacksonville, we’ve played eight quarters of football without creating a turnover. I think you can’t have one discussion without the other. Turning the ball over is less of an issue if you’re getting it. Not getting turnovers is less of an issue if you’re preserving and taking care of it. So we’ve got issues in both areas and it’s created issues for us globally. We were fortunate to get out of Jacksonville… and obviously we weren’t able to get out of Denver.”
Tomlin went on to describe what the Steelers need to do to flip the turnover margin in their favor.
“So we’ve got work to do in that area. It’s very fundamental. We always work in that area. But it’s a re-centering, if you will- a point of emphasis- and we’ll continue along those lines until we get the desired result. And to be quite honest with you, we better get the desired result very quickly because of the significant challenge we have coming before us.”
Coach Tomlin also acknowledged the Steelers are not up to par with the elite teams in the NFL in this area.
“We, as a football team, if there’s one area we are lacking in, in terms of development, is that turnover ratio. I think we are toward the bottom part of the league. And again, it’s twofold. We’ve got to do a better job of taking care of it. We’ve got to do a better job of seizing it and getting it, particularly with some of the duress that we’ve been able to create defensively. We create a lot of sacks and so forth. Just by virtue of those statistics, it should be the type of helter-skelter necessary to get turnovers and it just hasn’t happened for us. So we’ve got some work to do.”
Coach Tomlin was asked what can be done by defenses to create more turnovers.
“It starts, first of all, with just simply ball awareness. We teach that and talk that probably more than anything. Being aware of where the ball is located, who’s holding it, how they’re holding it, and what they’re trying to do with it and how that relates to your assignment. And that’s just a general Football 101 description of ball awareness. But anytime you’re talking about getting the football, from a defensive perspective, it starts there. So everyone can relate to that. A defensive lineman can relate to that relative to his pass rush. A defensive back can relate to that relative to covering people and attempting to break up potential completions, etc. I think everyone can talk about and think about how ball awareness relates to the specific task but they have to do with an any particular defensive call.”
Additionally, Tomlin was asked if focusing on takeaways could somehow affect either coverage or tackling.
“Potentially. There’s risk/reward associated with everything that you do in football. I feel comfortable asking professionals to have an increased emphasis in a certain area without worrying about our tackling going helter–skelter.”